Some of the world's best young designers from London's Royal College of Art (RCA) have created a series of remarkable "Bentleys of the Future" designs in a unique partnership with the famous British company.
Eighteen Vehicle Design Course Masters students have spent the last few months studying the work of Bentley's leading designers, including Head of Exterior Design Raul Pires who played a key role designing the company's new Mulsanne flagship. Drawing on Bentley's proud design heritage, they have sought to develop a range of striking and futuristic car designs.
Now four of the RCA students have been shortlisted to refine their designs with Pires and his colleagues with a winner and runner-up both being invited to join the Crewe-based company for a six month secondment in the Bentley design studio.
"Working with Bentley has inspired these young designers to create a coupe for the 21st Century that embraces the latest aerodynamics technology," commented Professor Dale Harrow, Head of Vehicle Design at the RCA. "The Vehicle Design Course attracts postgraduate students from across the world and it has been fascinating to see them make a connection with a British marque that has such a distinguished heritage."
A key part of the project has been the ability to combine strong visual design with the latest automotive software. Each car design has undergone extensive testing in a virtual wind tunnel to assess and enhance its aerodynamic capabilities.
"We've had invaluable support from Exa and their PowerFLOW software which was used to create cars like the Bentley Continental Supersports," added Professor Harrow. "The students realise the importance of optimising the aerodynamic qualities of their designs and Exa's technology allows each car to evolve constantly. Crucially, our young team has been working with top designers like Raul, learning how to combine great creativity with sound engineering solutions."
Raul Pires said the overall standard was extremely high and this convinced Bentley to add an extra place to the shortlist.
"The RCA has an eviable reputation for attracting some of the best young design talent, with many of their graduates going on to work for the world's leading car manufacturers." said Pires. "The outstanding quality of work meant we have offered an extra place.
These four finalists have captured the essence of our brand, recognising what makes a Bentley instantly recognisable on the road. Just as importantly, they've embraced Exa's leading-edge technology and grasped that excellent design should always seek to enhance a car's handling and performance, as well as optimising its environmental credentials."
During the next few days the four designers will be working flat-out with their course tutors and EXA's analysts to refine their work before meeting with Raul Pires and Bentley's design chief Dirk van Braeckel for the final review.
The four Bentley/Exa finalists are Bora Kim, David Seesing, Marten Wallgren and Mikka Heikkinen. Bora (26) from South Korea has created a Bentley which enables the owner to easily select their preferred engine for any given journey whilst Sweden's Marten (27) has created a futuristic version of the Bentley Continental GT.
David Seesing (26) from Cologne in Germany hopes to be the third generation of his family to work in the motor industry and has impressed Bentley with his ability to combine radical design with impressive aerodynamics.
Completing the line-up is Finland's Mikka Heikkinen (26) who has created a high-performance Bentley and used his industrial design training to create a powerful, visually impactful concept vehicle.
"Bentley Motors has long-established apprentice and graduate schemes and we are always seeking to find new ways to encourage and support people who want to work in the motor industry," said Christine Gaskell, Member of the Board for Personnel at Bentley Motors, who has been following the project closely. "We look forward to welcoming some of the Royal College's brightest and best to our design team later this year."